Colson Whitehead is the next New York State Author, Alicia Ostriker the next State Poet

novelist Colson Whitehead and poet Alicia Ostriker

Colson Whitehead and Alicia Ostriker

The next New York State Author will be Colson Whitehead, and the next State Poet will be Alicia Ostriker.

Their selection was announced this week -- and they'll be inaugurated at the opening of the Albany Book Festival at UAlbany Friday, September 28 at 7:30 pm. Both writers will be reading at the event, which is free and open to the public.

Colson Whitehead is, of course, a famous novelist whose most recent work -- The Underground Railroad -- won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Alicia Suskin Ostriker is a poet and poetry critic. Bio blurbage: "Alicia Ostriker, the author of sixteen volumes of poetry, is one of the most acclaimed poets, as well as one of the most influential poetry critics of her generation. Joyce Carol Oates asserts that her 'iconoclastic expression, whether in prose or poetry, is essential to understanding our American selves.' Ostriker's work explores motherhood, womanhood, social justice, Jewish identity and-- in the words of poet Joan Larkin-- 'takes on nothing less than what it feels like to be alive.'"

Whitehead will be the 12th New York State Author, an honor that's previously gone to Allison Lurie, Mary Gordon, Russell Banks, Kurt Vonnegut, James Salter, Peter Matthiessen, William Gaddis, Norman Mailer, E. L. Doctorow, and Grace Paley, and most recently, Edmund White.

Ostriker will be the 11th New York State Poet. Previous State Poets: Marie Howe, Jean Valentine, Billy Collins, John Ashbery, Sharon Olds, Jane Cooper, Richard Howard, Audre Lorde, Robert Creeley, and Stanely Kunitz, and most recently, Yusef Komunyakaa.

The State Author and State Poet are selected by advisory panels at UAlbany and the New York State Writers Institute. From NYSWI: "During their two-year terms the state laureates promote and encourage fiction writing and poetry throughout New York by giving public readings and talks within the state."

Earlier: The first Albany Book Festival will be at UAlbany this fall and the lineup is stacked with notable authors

photos via NYSWI

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